The Ultimate Business Travel Policy for Streamlining Business Travel Expenses

Why are T&E policies so tricky? It’s because: This post provides a comprehensive guide to streamlining business travel expenses.

>> Related:  A Step-by-Step Business Expense Template <<

Understanding Business Travel Expenses

There are generally four business expense types, all of which should be budgeted and quickly reimbursed.

Types of Expenses


With the ease and low cost of virtual meetings, and with airfares rising 5x faster than the overall inflation rate (source), in-person meetings are now reserved for high-value activities like rebuilding relationships, collaborative planning, and fortifying teamwork and community.  There is simply no tolerance for, “this trip could have been a Zoom call.” To anticipate ROI, balance both the trip’s expected costs and outcomes.  If you had pre-pandemic travel budgets, assume you’ll need at least 30% more budget for the same trip in 2023.

Reimbursement Procedures

Reimbursements are extremely important for employees, because people like to get their money back as soon as humanly possible. Some companies even offer prepaid cards or corporate cards so that spending doesn’t come out of employees’ personal accounts. Make sure your policy outlines the reimbursement process and turnaround times. Also, highlight if reimbursements will be in the form of a paper check or sent via direct deposit. If you have automated processes via expense management technology, employees will be thrilled that reimbursements can be processed and direct deposited in as little as 24-hours.

Creating a Comprehensive Business Travel Expense Policy

Business travel policies have to be comprehensive, flexible, and clearly-communicated.  When creating or revamping a policy, begin with collaboration across stakeholders:

>> Related:  The Most Common Challenges of T&E Management <<

Defining Clear Guidelines For Employees

The business travel policy should clearly state employees’ responsibilities. This may include ensuring that all required documentation is completed prior to the start of a trip (such as flight reservations and hotel arrangements), adhering to the maximum daily allowances set by the company, notifying management of any changes in plans during travel, etc. In your policy, be sure to cover if all line items require or receipt, or if only purchases over a certain dollar amount need documentation. You should also specify expense report due dates — usually within 90 days of an expense or on a monthly basis. Once you have guidelines in place, don’t assume your policy to be widely used if it’s a PDF on the shared drive!  Instead, consider a modern travel management platform that supports in-app policy parameters, so employees can easily search for flights and accommodation that meet your requirements, and receive guidance as they’re booking.

Determining [Un]Acceptable Expenses

The heart of a travel expense policy is usually in determining what expenses are [un]acceptable.  But avoid the temptation to create rigid, granular rules.
Affects business travel expense policy.
Instead, here are best practices: Ready to get specific?  Download: TravelBank’s sample business travel policy >

Brochure template for business travel expense policy.

Consider Employee Engagement

Adoption is easier said than done.  Can you shape your new policy to boost engagement?  Here are some examples:

>> Related: The Importance of Well-Defined Travel and Expense Policies for Businesses <<

Implementing the Policy 

Writing a clear policy that aligns to your corporate culture is… actually the easy part.  Good data begins with your employees.  It’s imperative they understand the policy and can easily adopt it.

Train and support employees

>> Related: 10 Questions to Audit and Update Your Business Travel Policy <<

Incorporate Technology

Asking employees to memorize every finite policy, and hand-entering data in spreadsheets, is a recipe for non-compliance.  Expense tracking software makes it easier for employees to capture and submit receipts.  It eases frustration, automatically routes approvals, and lessens the burden on Finance and employees alike. When evaluating expense tracking technology, look for:

Regularly Review and Update Your policy

Review and adjust your policy every year, or when corporate or world events necessitate it.  Re-engage your collaborative stakeholders, and ensure your staff is engaged, feels heard, and gets needs met.


Streamlining business travel expenses begins with a flexible policy that’s easy for employees to adopt. Rewards, in-app policy parameters, simple UX, and swift reimbursement all help drive compliance.

>> Download TravelBank’s Travel Policy template <<

Brochure template for business travel expense policy.